What is a Food Swap?

Learn what a food swap is and how to start your own exchange of delicious goods!


| January 2017



Food Swap

Food swaps are a great way for people who love to cook to exchange homemade goods.

Photo by Michael Piazza

Food Swap (Storey, 2016) by Emily Paster describes a food swap as "a gathering of friends and food lovers to exchange their home-made goods." Paster offers guidance on finding a local food swap, strategies for successful swapping, and the basics on how to start and maintain your own event. Food Swap also includes over 75 recipes as well as labels for you to use at your own swap. This excerpt comes from chapter one, "What is a Food Swap?"

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Food Swap.

The modern food swap movement began in — where else? — Brooklyn, New York, in 2010.

Since then, it has spread to every corner of the United States, Canada, Europe, and even South America and the Antipodes. There are food swaps in every large American city and in many small towns and rural areas. Some food swaps meet once a month; some meet only a few times a year. Some food swaps have 50 participants and some have a dozen. Swaps are held in all kinds of locations, from church basements, parks, and community centers to stores and cooking schools. Some swaps charge admission and some are free.

In short, food swaps take many forms, but they all have the following common elements, many of which the founders of the modern food swap movement, Kate Payne and Megan Paska, established at that first 2010 swap.

No money changes hands.

Trading, not buying, is what the food swap movement is about. A food swap is intended to be a more personal alternative to the commercial food marketplace. There is also a less romantic and more practical reason for this requirement: food that is to be sold is subject to various health and safety regulations. In many states, for example, food that is intended for retail sale must be prepared in a licensed kitchen by someone who has taken required sanitation training, and labeled according to industry standards.





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